Pathways to 2050: The Role of Nuclear in a Low-Carbon Europe
Following the European Parliament ratification of the Paris agreement on 5 October 2016, the European Union reaffirmed its commitment to decarbonise its energy mix while going beyond what was originally pledged corresponding to 85-90% GHG emission reduction by 2050 (European Council, October 2009). A series of energy roadmaps and scenario studies from the European Commission and other international organisations have shown that embarking on such an ambitious decarbonisation pathway would require a growing role of electricity, from c20% of the European final energy consumption in 2015 to more than 40% by 2050. In such scenarios, total electricity consumption is expected to increase by more than 1% per year on average through the electrification of transport, heating and cooling and industrial processes, more than offsetting the significant energy efficiency gain achieved on current electricity end-usages. The power system will therefore play a key role in the decarbonisation of the European Economy.
This study, commissioned by FORATOM, analyses how nuclear can help Europe reach its medium-term to 2050 low-carbon targets. It also looks at the European nuclear sector’s contribution to several key energy policy objectives, namely security of supply, decarbonisation and sustainability, and affordability and competitiveness. The study focuses on three contrasted nuclear capacity scenarios in 2050 and assesses how nuclear can contribute to an ambitious decarbonisation of the European economy. It shows that achieving the European emissions targets in a scenario with a significant early phasing out of nuclear plants would prove more challenging and increase costs for customers.